Friends of the Mount Rainier Library

Presentation at Charette on Library/Police Station Building (3409 Rhode Island Ave.)

Saturday, March 18, 2000

Good morning. I'm Anthony Hall and this is Lyn Lawrence. We are members of the Friends of the Mount Rainier Library, a group formed about 5 years ago in response to the threat of closure of the library.

  1. The Mount Rainier Library is a member of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System.
  2. The Friends of the Mount Rainier Library is an independent volunteer group, and does not represent the county library system or the City of Mount Rainier. However, we are affiliated with the county-wide Friends group.
  3. This Friends group was formed by concerned and interested individuals to lobby for and promote the Mount Rainier Library as well as promote literacy within the surrounding communities.
  4. Members of the Friends have invested an enormous amount of their own time researching libraries in books and online, and educating themselves on American Library Association guidelines on features and designs of public libraries. In addition, we have taken field trips to eight or nine libraries in the area and have met with and interviewed librarians and administrators in the county system.
  5. As we move through this presentation, we believe that you will come to agree with us that this site does not and cannot serve the purposes of a library that our community deserves

There are a few positive aspects of the current library:

  1. Its location right in downtown Mount Rainier and its "storefront" aspect draw users to the downtown area.
  2. Its small size equals personalized service by its staff.
  3. And the most important aspect is that it is a county library. As such, borrowers here have access to many resources of the entire county library system.

However, there are also drawbacks:

  1. The current space is limited to 1255 square feet, the smallest in the county system.
  2. Its limited size, with fewer items on its shelves than any other branch library in the county system, results in limited holdings.
  3. There is no room for dedicated program space, such as enclosed study rooms, activity rooms, or meeting rooms.
  4. With a service area of about 12,000 residents, available parking for library users is limited to three parallel parking spaces on the street.

Expansion of the library into the entire site would increase space to more than 5000 square feet, which, in theory, would allow for dedicated program spaces, enlarged staff areas, and public meeting space.

  1. However, Prince George's County library officials state that public use and access must be on one level.
  2. Therefore, the usable space in an expanded facility would be limited to the first floor, or only about 2700 square feet.
  3. In addition, expansion into the entire building would require a great amount of renovation and reconfiguration of the interior space.
  4. Furthermore, the building's foundation is insufficient for necessary structural strengthening.
  5. Finally, despite the potential increase in size, this site cannot accommodate more than 5 parking spaces. Ten to 15 spaces are required by American Library Association guidelines, and library patrons would continue to suffer.

SLIDES:

  1. A view of the front of the Thurmont Library, a storefront library about the size of the first floor of the building in question.
  2. An interior view of the Thurmont Library. Note the clutter and the fact that there is no room for dedicated program spaces.

The Friends believe that Mount Rainier and the surrounding communities need and deserve an expanded, modern, state-of-the-art library, one that cannot be designed to fit into the current building.

  1. We see the future of this library at another location that would permit the creation of a state-of-the-art facility, with ample parking, services, and programs that would appeal to a wide spectrum of our community.
  2. Some of the features that the Friends envision for a new library could be, for example, targeting all age groups.
  3. For the children in the community, the library could provide outreach to schools. The two elementary schools in Mount Rainier alone total almost 1300 students.
  4. The new Mount Rainier library could sponsor mentoring programs. Prince George's County schools' superintendent Iris Metts has recently started a county-wide mentonng program, with Thomas Stone Elementary School designated as one of the target schools.
  5. With more space, the library could sponsor other recreational and educational programs, such as Storytime.
  6. In particular, an enclosed space dedicated to children is needed in our new library.

SLIDES:

  1. This is a children's area in the Tacoma Library. Smaller furniture, low shelves, and a vast array of children's books make it a comfortable and inviting place for children who visit that library.
  2. In the Glenarden Library, the large children's area is roomy and well-lit.
  3. In the Largo/Kettering Library, this dedicated children's room in the children's area has a glass enclosure, which provides noise reduction as well as visibility. In addition, it allows for permanent children-related features.
  4. Another age group that the new Mount Rainier Library could reach out to is young adults. Teens have historically been neglected by public libraries. This is the age group that often says "There's nothing to do."
  5. Our library could provide a collection that includes appropriate material for young adults; meeting room space; an enclosed space for more active and vocal research, study, and discussion; a listening room for music; space to watch educational materials and videos; and computers to assist in their homework, for job searches, and access to the Internet.

SLIDES:

  1. In this enclosed room for young adults in the Bowie Library, teens can study or socialize without disturbing others.
  2. Also in the Bowie Library, this large, open space for young adults and children offers appropiiately-scaled tables and chairs amidst shelves chock-full of books for them.
  3. In addition to the usual library fare, the new library could include large-print books and audio books for adults and senior citizens.
  4. Meeting rooms could be provided for author series, lecture series, and other community meetings.
  5. The new Mount Rainier Library could include special collections such as the arts, local and county cultural and historical works that speak to our diverse cultural heritage, ethnic holdings for our multi-ethnic community, a foreign-language collection, materials on the sciences and technology, and videos.

SLIDES:

  1. Again in the Bowie Library, a large glass-enclosed room allows for quiet research and study.
  2. This newsletter of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System lists numerous ongoing activities and programs offered throughout the county's libraries. However, the only information given for the Mount Rainier Library are the address, the phone number, and the hours of operation.
  3. In this information age, computers must be a part of any public information site, such as a library.
  4. With public access to computers, library users can take a computer class, learn how to write a resume, or do a job search.
  5. Other library computer uses could range from word processing to graphics programs.
  6. Finally, computers can provide residents with access to the Internet.

SLIDES:

  1. In the Glenarden Library, there is enough space to place these computers in their own dedicated area behind a low partition wall.
  2. Back in the Bowie Library, computers have been positioned around a structural support in a general area, next to a children's area.
  3. Even if the Mount Rainier Library were to expand into the entire Library/Police Station building, we believe that the community would not best be served by the result; we do not believe that the future Mount Rainier Library ought to be in this building.
  4. The Friends of the Mount Rainier Library are dreamers. Dreamers made this country great. As dreamers, we have grand visions of what this library could and should be.
  5. Nevertheless, we are realists.., we fully realize that we need help to reach these goals.
  6. Therefore, for the benefit of the residents of Mount Rainier and surrounding communities, for the revitalization of downtown, and for partnering and funding possibilities, we would like to continue to have discussions in the near future, with the City Council and Staff, on the idea of an enlarged and relocated library.

Thank you. May we entertain any questions?

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